Why is the NYPD’s ‘Warrant Squad’ Still Raiding Homeless Shelters?

Conversations with men and women who sleep at various shelters across town suggest so-called warrant squads, a holdover from the days of Rudolph Giuliani—a mayor known for combating homelessness aggressively in the 90s—is still alive and well in 2015.

Feature (New York)

John Surico
October 1, 2015

Tags: Housing: Homelessness

Organizations mentioned/involved: Legal Aid Society (New York City)


Known on the streets as “warrant squads,” the units are apparently on the hunt for the countless homeless people facing open arrest warrants. The raids are sporadic—they can happen once a month, or twice a week, homeless people told me. Subjects said not adhering to a pattern is the point, so homeless individuals with open warrants can’t anticipate persecution and dodge a particular shelter. It’s also done in the middle of the night, for efficiency’s sake.

As one 35-year-old homeless man named Jonathan Allen put it, “They know we have to be here.”